Body fat vs muscle type

I’ve never heard anyone talk on this topic but it always seems to me that more power type riders (Kristoff etc) have higher body fat levels than the slower twitch climber type cyclists. You could say it’s because climbers need lower weight of course but then comparing a 400m runner to a marathoner has the seeming same relationship (marathoner being lower body fat) and it certainly seems the case with cyclists I know. Why?

Part of it is focus / importance. Losing an extra Kilo or two is important (or perceived to be) for climbers / GC riders. If you are a sprinter, W/Kg isn’t perceived to be as important as absolute W / how quickly you can accelerate up to speed.

Like everything else in cycling, it’s what you focus on / what is perceived as making a difference. Similar to why climbers / GC haven’t been focused on aerodynamic compared to rouleurs/ breakaway specialists.

If you get a bunch of club cyclists though who are all equally interested in having a good strength to weight ratio, the climber types with low peak power always seem to have less body fat than porkers like me who are more sprinty, at 46 for me getting lower than 13% would be REALLY hard.

You also get somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophesy at the club level: because w/kg is important on longer climbs, the people who are better climbers will naturally have a lower % body fat.

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isn’t that because the strong and sprinty guys with low body fat are out there winning crit sprints?

I reckon Alexander Christophe would do ok in your average crib but certainly looks higher on the body fat scale.

higher than other pro riders or compared to the avg club rider? I’d recon Kristoff would out climb most if not all the club climbers as well

Correlation, not necessarily causation.

Climbers and marathoners do a lot more aerobic volume than sprinters and 400m runners.

Thus those athletes are trained to have a larger proportion of type I muscle fibers and lower body fat.

Certainly there are genetic components involved as well, but it’s not the cause/effect relationship you’re thinking: people with more type II fibers can have low BF; people with more type I can have high BF.

Just because there’s no literature on it doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. Remember those scrawny kids at school who could eat anything and still had super low body fat? They were never the ones with big muscles… Maybe slow twitch are more fat burning and less glycolytic athletes, pretty sure that’s the case right? Therefore they’re always burning lots of fat and therefore have lower body fat?

Some of that mass that looks like fat is actually muscle and/or big bone structure, which is heavy but a useful heavy.

At the club level, I think it’s because riders are naturally attracted to their strength. Self fulfilling prophecy as said above.

At the world tour level, guys like Matthieu Van Der Poel appear as skinny as any other rider but they are just larger and carry more muscle mass.

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You seem to be talking about body type (endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph), muscle fiber type, and body fat.

There is some evidence of a correlation between the proportion of muscle fiber type to body type (e.g. more type I fibers in ectomorphs), and different body types do have a propensity to gain and lose weight and body fat differently. So if you want to draw the conclusion that an endomorph is likely to have more type II muscle fibers and also higher body fat, it’s probably fair to say that, in general.

But the relationship is not causative since both body fat and muscle fiber types are very much trainable.

So as I was saying, the answer to your “why” question has to do with a host of factors: genetics, training volume, training plan design and focus probably being primary.

Take a look at body builders who compete. Tons of muscle, very little body fat.

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